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J Pediatr Surg. 1998 Jul;33(7):1168-70; discussion 1170-1.

Thoracoscopic anterior spinal procedures in children.

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The Children's Hospital, Denver, Colorado, USA.



From February 1996 through July 1997, 20 patients were determined to be appropriate for a thoracoscopic approach for the anterior portion of their spinal surgery. Ages ranged from 8 to 17 years of age and weight from 20 to 70 kg. The diagnosis included severe idiopathic and neurogenic scoliosis or kyphosis (n = 20) and congenital hemivertebra (n = 4). The procedures performed included diskectomy and anterior release from two to nine vertebral levels, hemivertebrectomy, and epiphysiodesis. Four patients also had an open lumbar exposure and all had a posterior fusion.


All procedures were completed successfully endoscopically. Surgical times for the thoracoscopic portion of the procedure averaged 106 minutes and total procedure times were comparable with the standard open technique. Three patients were extubated at the end of the procedure with the majority extubated on postoperative day 1. Average intensive care unit stay was 1.8 days, and chest tubes were removed between postoperative day 1 and 5 (average, 2.2 days). In follow-up, surgical correction was deemed to be acceptable and equivalent to open techniques in all cases.


This technique has proven to be safe and effective in children and appears to be associated with less pain and morbidity as evidenced by earlier extubation and chest tube removal and shorter ICU stay.

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